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A Saint among 115 martyred Blesseds: Saint Solomon Leclerq

These Catholic men died during the French Revolution, which lasted from 1789 to 1799. Why did they all die as martyrs, and what caused that one man to be named a saint?

St. Salomon Leclercq, who was martyred on September 2, 1792, at the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, along with 115 other men. (Images: Wikipedia)

On the night of September 2nd and in the early hours of September 3rd in 1792, 116 Catholic men were slaughtered.

While 115 of them have been beatified, one has also been canonized. Why did they all die as martyrs, and what caused that one man (only) to be named a saint?

These Catholic men died during the French Revolution, which lasted from 1789 to 1799. From the beginning, the revolutionary government of France knew that the Catholic Church would oppose their radical and violent agenda. The government, therefore, quickly began passing laws to persecute faithful Catholics. In time, they forced religious communities to close and demanded more and more control over the Church.

By late 1792, 116 clergy and religious men had been arrested and were being held as prisoners in two Parisian monasteries: the Hôtel des Carmes and the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The chief crime of these men was their refusal to take an oath swearing their allegiance to the revolutionary government and repudiating the authority of the pope. The prisoners included three bishops, four deacons, and one religious brother, but the rest were priests, some from religious orders and the rest from the diocesan clergy.

Late at night on September 2, 1792, two armed mobs descended on the monasteries and barred the doors. The prisoners were essentially butchered, one at a time, with barely the pretense of a trial. Yes, some of the men did try to escape, but they were not successful. It took all night for the mob to execute the ninety-five men at the Hôtel des Carmes and the twenty-one men at the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

As historians have pointed out (and as I have described here), the French Revolution was strikingly similar to later communist revolutions. For example, the revolutionaries had prepared for this slaughter by placing propaganda all over Paris, which encouraged the residents to (wrongly) believe that a foreign invasion was imminent. With Parisians afraid to leave their homes, the fear and darkness allowed mobs to slaughter innocent men.

In 1901, these 116 men were proposed for beatification, along with seventy-four clergy and vowed religious who were martyred on the following night. There was plenty of evidence that all of them had been killed in odium fidei (“in hatred for the faith”). After all, they had been arrested because of their refusal to swear an oath to the state over their faith as Catholics and over their vows to the Church. The only surprise about the decision to beatify these 191 men was that it took until 1926 for the Vatican to formally approve the cause.

But ninety years later, one of those men was canonized, all by himself. Why?

In the late seventeenth century, Saint Jean-Baptiste de La Salle established a teaching order of religious brothers in France. His brothers, commonly called the De La Salle Brothers or the Brothers of the Christian Schools, took the usual vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, but their primary focus was education.

Saint Solomon (born Guillaume-Nicolas-Louis) Leclerq (1745-1792) was born in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France. In 1767, he entered as a novice in the Brothers of the Christian Schools, and he became a professed religious brother in 1772. Although he was somewhat shy, he was also a gentle but firm teacher. By 1787, he had been made the secretary to the superior general of the congregation of his order.

When he was ordered to take the oath of allegiance to the revolutionary government, he refused. He was imprisoned with many others in the Hôtel des Carmes, which is where he died on that fateful night in 1792.

While many members of the Brothers of the Christian Schools have been beatified since the founding of the order, Solomon was the first one to die a martyr. A few brothers from the order were martyred later during the French Revolution and have been beatified, and dozens of martyred brothers from the Spanish Civil War in 1936 have also recently been beatified.

But the Brothers of the Christian Schools are particularly devoted to providing education to children and the poor. The order currently has approximately 3,000 brothers who teach in eighty countries all over the world. One of the nations where they have established many schools is Venezuela.

In 2007, a five-year-old girl in Venezuela was bitten by an unidentified animal, presumably a snake. By the time she was taken to the emergency department of the nearest hospital, her entire left leg was inflamed, she had a high temperature, and doctors couldn’t detect a pulse in her infected foot. As the doctors prepared to amputate her leg in hopes of saving her life, people began to pray. They prayed particularly for the intercession of Blessed Solomon Leclerq, since the inhabitants of the nearby town of Sabaneta de El Hatillo had developed a strong devotion to him. They quite naturally lifted up their prayers for this little girl to him as they feared for her life.

Surprising everyone, the girl’s condition quickly and dramatically improved. The amputation was canceled, and she was soon sent home, completely healthy. Later tests showed an absence of any damage to her affected leg. Her recovery was considered miraculous, and Pope Francis declared Solomon to be a saint in 2016.

Why did this miracle occur? Not because saints are so bored in Heaven that they beg our Lord for miracles to pass the time. Instead, the saints have the privilege of gazing upon Almighty God for all of eternity. Because they are men and women, just like us, they want us to join them.

When God performs a miracle through a saint’s intercession, it reminds that the kingdom of God is closer than we think. It encourages us to desire holiness and virtue for ourselves. It teaches us about God’s power.

And sometimes it gives us insights about the guest list in Heaven. Perhaps there are 115 other friends of God from that fateful night who would also like to become intercessors for our problems here on earth.

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About Dawn Beutner 82 Articles
Dawn Beutner is the author of The Leaven of the Saints: Bringing Christ into a Fallen World (Ignatius Press, 2023), and Saints: Becoming an Image of Christ Every Day of the Year also from Ignatius Press. She blogs at


  1. Thanks to the good and faithful country men of the Vendee and their faithful wives and compliant, holy and innocent children; all slaughtered either in combat against the “blues” of the state or butchered at their hands without so much as a second thought – Catholicism lives today in France. The moderns, so eager to cast off the yoke of Catholicism/Christianity in the French Revolution have willingly embraced the barbarity of the crescent under Macron. France, the eldest daughter of the Church, will long for the days when the Catholic Church encouraged all to live virtuously. Tragically, in their ignorance and “magnanimity” they’ve rolled out the red carpet to their own conquerors. SMH

    • The red carpet being, if course, the butcher’s bill of abortions and the ongoing Islamisation whose origins lie in Napoleon Bonaparte’s Egyptian expedition of 1798-1800!

  2. Saint Solomon – heroic witness to the faith. I fully expect many more will be called in the days ahead to give heroic witness to the fullness of our orthodox Catholic faith.

  3. Sorry Dawn, need to correct your military history. The revolutionary authorities were correct about the immediate invasion of France. The First Coalition, under the Duke of Brunswick, leading a combined Austro-Prussian force were advancing from the east in order to liberate the French monarchy. They were checked by the victory of Valmy on the 20 September, the first victory that galvanized the revolutionary fervour into an ideological force that would export freedom on enslaved people if requested. The leve en mass would see the entire french population galvanized into a war front that would inveratively chance war forever.

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